Bvlgari Black perfume Review (Meredith)

Hi everyone, my name is Meredith and I am a ‘fumie and a foodie. Most of you will have seen me comment here on the Posse as FragrantWitch but, despite jumping at the chance to do some writing, I am finding it daunting being up here at the top of the page. I’ll happily write a lengthy comment for you all to read but to start the conversation… yikes! After all, ‘revealing’ myself feels sort of like a superhero unmasking: FragrantWitch- scourge of the evil (smelling) everywhere (Specialist Weapon: Scent Bombs) becomes Meredith- suburban housewife (Specialist Skill: Can make emergency dinners out of 5 ingredients). Anyway, I am an American married to an Englishman, living in the UK. We have 2 gorgeous daughters, aged 3 and 5, and they keep me very busy! They both love to smell perfumes with me and are exceedingly happy if I let them loose in the toiletries department at John Lewis where they can sniff everything from body wash to fine fragrance. I am so delighted by this because I did the same thing when I was young- sitting with my mom’s perfumes spread out in front of me, happily huffing away and lingering for ages in the shampoo aisle, sniffing bottles to determine which I wanted.  I expect my mom’s perfume collection was a direct result of her doing the same with my grandmother’s fragrances, so at least my girls come by it honestly!

My mom and grandmother also taught me to cook and bake and I grew up in a house smelling of fresh cookies and pot roast simmering in the Crock-Pot. Smells were everywhere around me as a child, inside and outside, and I revelled in them. New England has such fabulously evocative smells and I find myself seeking to replicate them here in England as I want my daughters to share in some of my olfactory memories even as they are creating their own. I try to do that through cooking with them, which they both adore, and in finding scents that either evoke the actual place or feeling of a treasured memory so that I can share the stories. Along the way, both at home and travelling, I discover new and wonderful fragrances and recipes for us to share and create the stories that will go along with them.  Hopefully, some combination of all of the above will provide me with inspiration for posts that you all will be interested in reading!

Today, I thought I would share a mini- review of a fragrance that made me feel like a ‘proper’ perfumista: Bulgari Black. I had read so much about it on the blogs that I was really keen to try it as it sounded right up my alley – and, boy, was I right. Bulgari Black is all of my bad-boy high school/college boyfriends rolled into one bottle of olfactory bliss. You have brooding leather-jacket motorcycle guy, thermal-shirted grunge mechanic guy, coffee-swilling pothead poet (I always wondered-did the Mary Jane and the coffee cancel each other out?) and All- American-looking secret drag-racer and streetfighter, who always, inexplicably, smelled like cookies. The notes of leather, rubber, smoke and vanilla seem to generate a love-it or hate-it response: a quick straw poll of girlfriends yielded a 5 to 2 result. The 5 haters said it smelled ‘like a dirty mechanic’ and ‘being in The Lawyer’s car- leather and vanilla air freshener – bleurgh’. The 2 lovers said it smelled ‘oh yes…mmm…yes…sexy…wait, let me smell more!’ and like ‘a man who was trouble in the best possible way’ – we 3 have similar catalogues of roguish past men. Naturally, this led to a discussion of past men and their lingering ‘presences’ in our lives – yet another example of how much of us, our whole bodies and souls, responds to fragrance. My taste in men has, thankfully, changed but, man, am I glad I can still relive the fun and thrill of those bad boys whenever I spray my beloved Black.

The review got me to thinking about the power of a past relationship and how it can build your confidence or completely shatter it. For example, I had an ex who made me feel powerful, confident and sexy and he once gifted me a bottle of Paloma Picasso. Now, when I need a boost of confidence I spray Paloma Picasso and I can instantly see him smiling at me in satisfaction and appreciation. Everyone needs a scent like that, don’t they?

So, over to you…. What fragrances give you power or make you shrink into the shadows?

30 Comments

  1. “A man who’s trouble in the best possible way”…who could resist a fragrance descriptor like that? Brilliant, and so apt for Bulgari Black. It hints at brooding danger and sloe-eyed mischief while cooing sweet vanillic floral nothings into your ear, all with an art student’s sense of strange. Weird made wearable. I agree that an appreciation for oddities like Black is the ticket across the threshold to true perfumista-dom, and I love your take on it, Meredith.

    Fragrances that give me power…anything with leather, patchouli, vetiver, or dark, mossy greens. A sprightly citrus can give me some much-needed pep and go. Heady florals make me shrink and feel self-conscious, particularly jasmine and tuberose (although I do keep a small bottle of Lush’s Lust, a nuclear jasmine, on hand for when the mood strikes).

    • Hi Darryl,
      Thanks for the comment! I love your descriptions of ‘sloe-eyed mischief ‘and ‘sweet vanillic nothings’- they are perfect for Black! Oddities are definitely a gateway into fumiedom – largely, I think because a lot of us have adored those smells, like rubber, petrol and leather, in their natural singularity and are delighted to find them paired with more traditional perfume notes. My non-fumey friends agree that libraries and new books have a pleasant smell but none of them would buy and wear Smell Bent’s In the Library!

      I’m with you on the heady florals – they make me enormously self-conscious. Give me orientals, ambers, woods, incenses and I am a happy bunny. And a good citrus will do wonders when my get up and go has got up and went!

  2. Hi Meredith, I really enjoyed the review and finding out a little bit about the FragrantWitch!

    Ahhhh…..England. I miss it.
    I remember wearing Paloma Picasso with abandon in the mid to late 80s, without realizing it was such an assertive scent. I just thought (with my immature pre-perfumista sensibilities) that it was so pretty!

    I wear DK Black Cashmere or DK Signature scent (original) when I want to feel powerful. Thanks for the post!

    • Hi Amy, Thanks for the kind words!
      Have you lived in England or rather been a frequent visitor?
      I too suspect I wore a bit too much Paloma back in the day. I’m sure I sucked the oxygen out of a few elevators!
      I adore Black Cashmere and it’s definitely an assertive scent for me as well, all kohl-eyed attitude and tall boots. Then I get wafts of lovely leather from my boots whenever I bend over or crouch down and the smells mingle….yum

  3. Great post Fragrant Witch, aka Meredith. I’m jealous that you live in England. I so want to go there someday. I’m in New England which I don’t think is quite the same. Lord knows the accent is definitely not! Not many guys that sound like Alan Rickman in my neck of the woods. My hubby does try though. Lol.
    I too am a lover of Black. It does have that bad boy feeling too it but somehow I find it gets all warm and cozy on me. I never thought about it but I guess I do reach for it when I want something with a don’t mess with me attitude. Cristalle is my choice when I’m trying to find a good warm sunny day scent but it’s also what I wear when I’m feeling a bit cranky and want to be left alone. There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about it to me. I don’t know what my confidence scent is but my curl up in a ball and lick my wounds one would be Kenzo Air. I have no idea why but that just reminds me of my childhood and being at my babci’s house and it’s just so comforting to me. So I guess that’s my shrink into the shadows scent because when I pull that out I truly am not in a social mood.

    • Hi Poodle,
      Thanks!
      I’m from NH originally so know what you mean about the lack of Alan Rickman sound-alikes. My family and friends love to listen to my husband speak and both of my daughters sounds very British – so whenever we visit we have lots of admiring ears!
      I’m glad Black is finding so many Posse fans and it’s interesting to see how it behaves on different people.
      I really must revisit Cristalle as it so often mentioned. Chanels and I don’t do very well together but I need to persist! Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  4. Hi, Meredith! I have long admired your comments and so it’s nice to learn a little about you. I love to cook for family and friends and have fond memories of cooking with my daughter when she was little. I’m glad you are taking the time to foster a love of fragrance and cooking in your children; that was esp. nice to read. 🙂

    Reading your response to Darryl’s comment (love his scent description *nuclear jasmine*) I see that we have the same taste in fragrance. Chanel #19 is a (almost) lifelong love of mine and always makes me feel uplifted and confident. Old school Obsession, on a cold day, is another scent that inspires power. Bulgari Black is gorgeous – love your description of the bad boys that it reminds you of! Looking forward to more of your posts.

    • Hi Rosarita,
      Thank you so much! I’m glad to hear that you have such fond memories of cooking for your daughter and I’m sure she feels the same way. My girls and I baked jam-doughnut muffins and leek and pancetta bread today so our house smells wonderful.
      Old school Obsession is power scent for me but used sparingly out of consideration for my fellow man…;-)
      Another Chanel lover- I really must head back to Chanel for further testing!

  5. I love this review, Meredith! And Bvlgari Black is at the top of every list I make of scents that go “bump in the night.” It’s not tame, but that this thing keeps chugging along with so much critical acclaim in the bargain bin of every fragrance outlet just baffles me. Stocking up on about 30 spare tires of it would be a good idea because one of these days they will make it go away, though Bvlgari has been one of the best houses out there on not discontinuing stuff.

    thanks for the fun read this morning!

    • Thanks Patty!
      My back-up bottle has a back-up but I’m beginning to think that it’s not enough. Must get more! Black is definitely a ‘bump in the night’ scent. I acquires my first bottle of it through the first Swapmania and my swapper, Dinazad, commented that it is a perfect scent for ‘apparating’ a la Harry Potter . Maybe it’s Bellatrix Lestrange’s fragrance!

  6. I’m so happy you’re giving one my my top favorites a little love! I have gotten more compliments on Black than any other scent I own. I can’t see what the haters hate, truly I can’t. Encre Noire, (the men’s version) is another one that seems to make people lean in and huff, as is Chergui.

    Can you guess that I’m also not a big ol’ floral kind of person? I loved your writing, keep it up!

    • Sounds like we are a bit of scent twins- I love Chergui as well and think Encre Noire smells wonderful. Florals, to paraphrase Austin Powers, are not my bag, baby. I do adore Chamade though but, as it has the wonderful Guerlinade base, doesn’t really count as a full on floral, at least to me. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Hi, Meredith, and welcome aboard! I was so excited to see your post this morning, and what a great read it is! Love all your comments, especially about all the bad boys. That made me smile, because I was always the quintessential “good girl” and only admired the rogues from afar . Thanks to you, I am enjoying Bulgari Black, and Black Cashmere as well. P.S. When you get a sec, need you to PM me your new address. Thanks.

    • Hiya!
      I am so glad you enjoyed the post, dear A.! The rogues were fun…
      I am still assembling your parcel- how do you feel about violet chocolates??
      I’ll email soon (it’s been crazy here) with my new address!

  8. Hi, Fragrantwitch/Meredith! Enjoyed this post so much. Bulgari Black is a favorite of mine, too, but it doesn’t really conjure up any past flames. Many it has been too long ago. For a boost of confidence, I like Y by YSL. Cristalle will do that, too. The florals can be intimidating for me.

    • Thanks, Pam! Black seems to be striking a chord today and, interestingly, most of the lovers are not big floral fans. I can see Y being a great confidence scent. And another Black lover recommending Cristalle? Chanel counter, here I come!

  9. Meredith, thank you for this interesting post! I liked Bulgari Black enough to buy a back-up bottle, but I’ve never really spent much time with it. I don’t especially smell the rubber, though. Perhaps for me it just adds an edge to the accord. I wonder if some of those who hate it aren’t more sensitive to that note – and just realizing that this may also be true of some of those who love it, LOL!

    This identity thing is one of the reasons I haven’t gotten into Facebook. We get to wear “uniforms” to work to project our professional personae, why shouldn’t we get to wear costumes for play? Why would I want to appear as the superficial me when I can slip into the mask of the My Sin cat when I play with my perfume pals?

    Perfumes for strength is a natural and even ancient question. For me, the unisex vetiver is a good one for feeling strong, from the intuitive AG to the crisp, cool Guerlain or the woody MPG Racine. Or I might wear Chanel 28 La Pausa as the proverbial velvet glove. But some days I even resort to No. 19 or (only in cold weather) the protective patchouli force-field of PG Cozé. 😉

    • My pleasure, nozknoz! Black is so great, I can see how it would play differently enough on individuals to satisfy a lot of different people. I love the idea of wearing your perfume persona in your private life- she is just as much a part of you, if not more, than work persona!
      I will have to investigate Coze as I really like the idea of a protective patchouli forcefield – sounds like a weapon for FragrantWitch’s arsenal!!

  10. Thank you for your very evocative review, Meredith. It’s incredible how a scent with lots of character will really “retro-engineer” itself into our lives, isn’t it? As though it allowed us to rewrite our past…
    Ok, so while we’re in full Bulgari Black love-fest: when I spoke to the Bulgari PR in Paris, she said it was discontinued. Now’s the time to stock those back-up bottles while they’re still knocking around the gray market.

    • Hi and thanks for the comment!
      It is amazing how perfume can retro-engineer itself into our lives, allowing us access to our memories, enhancing certain aspects and erasing others.
      It’s official, then-Bulgari Black is discontinued. :Cry-Out: Cue mad dash for back up bottles- let the shopping begin!

    • NOoooooooooooooooooo!!!! Okay, there’s an ebay run on 30 bottles in my future. 🙁

  11. What a wonderful review! We share a history of interesting men, but alas not our feelings abou Black. For strength and power – Ormonde Jayne Woman. I wear it whenever I need a boost of confidance. And I’m jealous that you live in England where Ormonde Jayne can be actually be found!

    • Love OJ Woman! Thanks for the comment. Perhaps I shall have to take some photos and do a mini-review of the Ormande Jayne shop next time I am there!

  12. Welcome, Meredith! Oh, this is so wonderful having weekend posts! I loved your review of Bulgari Black. I’ve never gotten around to trying it (the rubber note still scares me a little) but you make it sound so intriguing!

    A perfume for empowering? Easity Mitsouko! She is her own person–not bitchy (that would be one of the Chanels imo) but has her ideals and is unbending.

  13. Great post, Meredith. Although I’m part of the woods instead of florals crowd, Black was a like-but-not-love for me. Possibly because I never had a bad-boy phase? (Even at 13, it was the nice guy who was kind to kids and old people that made my knees weak.) I’ve got different interations of strong. Sexy-strong: Black Cashmere. Womanly-strong: Ormonde Woman. Smart-strong: Iris Silver Mist.

    • Hi Dionne – I’m sure the memories have a fair amount to do with my love of Black. And now I am married to the quintessential nice guy so I guess I was just was a late bloomer to the joys of the good guys! Black Cashmere is definitely a sexy-stromg and your calssification of OJ Woman is spot on as well. Sadly, ISM smells like surgical tape to me . Ah well, money saved!

  14. Hi Sherri, You lucky so-and-so! Mitsy doesnt like me 🙁
    Do try Black as it definitely sniff-worthy even if you choose not to wear it.

  15. Welcome, Meredith. I’m putting Bvlgari Black on my wish list. Thank you.

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